Chronic tiredness is a modern plague, with people now averaging two hours less sleep each night than they did 100 years ago, due to the increased pressures of life.

Getting enough sleep when you haven’t been sleeping well, can literally be life-changing. The list of benefits is long:

You feel better, look better, work better, are easier to get along with, stay healthier, have more energy, make better decisions and fewer mistakes.

Adequate sleep also helps depression, weight, and to prevent accidents of all kinds. It enhances memory by improving the ability to learn and remember how to do things. A one-hour nap can help you to learn and remember, giving weight to the effectiveness of daytime napping.

Less than six hours sleep per night is associated with impairment in day-to-day tasks. Professor Stanley Coren from the University of British Columbia in Canada, author of The Sleep Thievesbelieves that western society is chronically sleep-deprived, making us clumsy, stupid, unhappy, or dead.

Symptoms of sleep deprivation are agitation, moodiness, grumpiness, irritability, waking up unrefreshed, problems with short-term memory, attention and concentration. Insufficient sleep in the long-term can also lead to health problems.

But what if you do go to bed in time to get enough sleep, but can’t fall asleep, or wake during the night, leaving you permanently sleep-deprived?

Here are some strategies for dealing with disrupted sleeping patterns:

Sleep Hygiene

is a collection of habits that are conducive to falling and staying asleep. Going to bed at the same time each night helps. Getting up at the same time each morning is also important, as it provides exposure to early morning sunlight, which helps to stimulate the sleep hormone melatonin.

A sleep diary to express thoughts and anxieties for when you wake during the night may alert you to the cause of your insomnia. You can also record what happened on the nights you did get a good night’s sleep.

The yoga technique of alternate nostril breathing, helps to deepen your natural breathing and release stress. Doctor Gillian Ross, a PhD in behavioural sciences and Yoga teacher, says: “Alternate nostril breathing before getting into bed is a calming centering practice that helps to unwind from daily activities.”

If nothing is working, it may be time to have a medical check up. Hormonal imbalances can affect sleep, such as low progesterone and increased thyroid activity.

Book: The Sleep Revolution – Transforming Your Life, One Night At a Time by Arianna Huffington